What does the future hold for the retail industry in Australia and across the globe? If we take a look at some of the figures concerning retail outlets in Australia over the last few years, we can see that physical stores appear to have peaked in popularity. More than half of all Australians now shop online, with more joining them every day. Does this mean that the high street store is doomed and all our shopping will take place online in the future? Not necessarily. Retailers with a lot invested in the future of physical outlets have a number of weapons at their disposal, which they believe will keep their love affair with the Australian consumer alive for some years to come.
What You Can Expect Now and in the Future
Some of the weapons mentioned above are already being deployed in stores across the country and some are still under development but all are sure to be common within the next few years.
- More convenient electronic payment systems – the latest contactless payment technology is already making buying goods in retail outlets a much easier experience. Systems such as Visa payWave allow consumers to simply wave their card in front of a secure reader before leaving the shop with their purchases.
- Augmented Reality – one of the most exciting developments, which is starting to appear in selected stores already and will undoubtedly become more popular is augmented reality technology. This technology opens up a world of possibility for physical outlets and is sure to make them more attractive to consumers across the country. Imagine walking into a clothing store where you can stand in front of a special mirror and select whichever outfits you wish to try from an app on your smartphone. Each outfit will magically appear in the mirror, superimposed on your reflection, without you having to lift a finger. The days of struggling in and out of clothing in a cramped changing room could soon be over.
- Personal Recognition Software – By employing personal recognition devices and software in stores, retailers will be able to recognise individual customers and access information about their likes and dislikes, enabling them to offer a VIP shopping experience to regular visitors. Shop assistants who accost you in electronic stores to tell you about goods in which you are not the least bit interested could be replaced by personal shopping assistants who seem to know exactly what you are looking for, almost before you do.
These are just a few of the tools that retailers will be employing to ensure that their physical stores remain relevant in the 21st century; many others are either already here or just over the horizon. Even more convenient payment systems are big news at the moment:listen to any futurist talking on the subject of shopping and you will hear about the latest systems able to read credit card information stored on near field communication chips in smartphones, enabling you to pay for goods without even putting your hand in your pocket.